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Down to Earth

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A story of premature reincarnation.

It seems everyone is trying to get into Heaven; at least those whose time is up. For Lance Barton (Chris Rock), a struggling comedian and bicycle messenger, it's the last thing on the mind. His due date upstairs is 50 years away. In the meantime, he's got big dreams to pursue on Earth, such as landing a slot at the final amateur night contest at the famed Apollo theatre. Lance's has one little problem though - he ain't that funny.

Thanks to an overcautious emissary from Heaven, Mr Keyes (Eugene Levy), he's going to get hit (literally) with a much bigger problem. Showing that even God has difficulty finding good help these days, the inept minion mistakenly plucks Lance from a traffic accident - before it takes place. Transporting him to the Pearly Gates, or more accurately, the velvet roped-lines of the hottest club around, the error is finally addressed by Mr King (Chazz Palminteri), the streetwise, no-nonsense head angel who manages the place from his plush windowed office.

Since returning to his own body on Earth is impossible, the urban-dwelling Lance reluctantly agrees to a normally unthinkable proposal. He'll occupy the body of a wealthy, old, white mogul, Charles Wellington, until a more suitable body can be found.

Strangely enough, in a Park Avenue penthouse, servants and butlers become his new homeys as Lance works on his streetwise comedy routine for the big Apollo showdown.

Living in the body of a callous, old white man would be bizarre enough for Lance without falling in love with Sontee (Regina King), the beautiful woman publicly battling Wellington's company at the same time. And if that wasn't enough, he's got to deal with the love affair between Wellington's wife (Jennifer Coolidge) and his personal assistant, Winston Sklar (Greg Germann), and their plot to have him killed.

Can reincarnation lead to self discovery, true love and a better stand up routine? Lance Barton is about to find out.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Down to Earth image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film comedy death rich money Heaven reincarnation

Persons of interest

  • Chris Rock .... Lance Barton
  • Regina King .... Sontee Jenkins
  • Chazz Palminteri .... King
  • Eugene Levy .... Keyes
  • Frankie Faison .... Whitney Daniels
  • Mark Addy .... Cisco
  • Greg Germann .... Sklar
  • Jennifer Coolidge .... Mrs Wellington
  • Wanda Sykes .... Wanda
  • John Cho .... Phil Quon
  • Martha Chaves .... Rosa
  • Brian Rhodes .... Charles Wellington III
  • Jack Newman .... Bob Krantz (the Middle-Aged Guy)
  • Leah Miller .... Tina Lovette
  • Elaine May .... Screenwriter: Heaven can wait - 1978
  • Warren Beatty .... Screenwriter: Heaven can wait - 1978
  • Lance Crouther .... Screenwriter
  • Ali LeRoi .... Screenwriter
  • Louis CK .... Screenwriter
  • Chris Rock .... Screenwriter
  • Chris Weitz .... Director
  • Paul Weitz .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

A lot more than Heaven can wait, Down to Earth is not only funny, it manages to achieve the requisite happy ending without leaving the saccharin aftertaste.

The best part of Down to Earth is the black humour (and I mean "black" in both senses of the word). Lance is a loser who doesn't know when to give up so rushes into situations where angels would fear to tread. And he's an African-American. Talk about the bottom of the barrel! Fortunately for him, dying (off stage) turns out to be the best thing that ever happened. It gives him the freedom to be himself without anyone knowing that it's him. That's how you make good comedians.

Wanda the maid steals every frame she is in with a brand of sassy lip that makes a drag queen look like Princess Diana. She even overshadows Chris, who does some damn fine work as the romantic lead cum funny loser. It's not often that you get to laugh both with and at someone at the same time.

The script is barely recognisable as Heaven can wait which is a damned good thing. That film was pretty bland even back then, today it would be a write off. Down to Earth pokes its pointy fingers into everyone's cosy little pies, pulling out more than just a few plums! It's tight, it's focussed and it's contemporary, the way a good script should be. Oh, sure, it's not exactly subtle but this film is a romantic comedy coming out of the Hollywood film factory, you can't expect subtlety from that.

What you can expect, however, as you hand over your cash: entertainment, is funny. Chris would be funny enough just doing stand-up for 1½ hours but with this film you get all the warm fuzziness that only true love can produce. Enjoy.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Special features:
    • Deleted scenes
    • Down to Earth: A look inside - Interviews with Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, Eugene Levi
  • Picture: Widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1
  • Subtitles: English captions
  • Trailers: Theatrical

Security censorship classification

PG (Medium level coarse language, sexual references, drug references)

Surveillance time

87 minutes (1:27 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: 6 February 2002
DVD retail: 6 February 2002
VHS rental: 6 February 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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